We’re beyond stoked to have Italy’s rising star Destrage as our Artist of the Week! Our very own Aurko did the honors of conducting an interview with the band. They covered a lot of ground so read up below and learn!
AR = Aurko
DS = Destrage (answered collectively)
AR – A hearty hello from the lads at The Circle Pit, Destrage. How is 2014 turning out to be for the mad metallers from Milano?
DS – Hi guys, thank you so much for your interest in Destrage! 2014 really looks being an hell of intense year…
AR – For the uninitiated, could you give us the story of how Destrage came into existence, your journey through the last 2 albums upto “Are You Kidding…”, the meaning of Destrage, etc.
DS – The current lineup has been consistent since 2007 and after their first demo, “Self Id Generator,” Destrage signed a deal with Howling Bull Records, Japan, and released their first full length, “Urban Being,” which also saw a worldwide release by Coroner Records in 2009.
The second full length “The King Is Fat’n’Old” was released in 2010 by Coroner Records and Howling Bull, supported by European and Japanese tours and international festivals such as Heineken Jammin’ Festival, Euroblast and Mair1 Festival, The Bad Side Festival, Metaltalia Festival, MAV Festival and more. The eclectic festival run afforded Destrage the opportunity to share the stage with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Parkway Drive, Hatebreed, Unearth, Municipal Waste, Sick Of It All, Freak Kitchen, Monuments, Jeff Loomis, Penny Wise, After the Burial, Puddle of Mudd, August Burns Red, Enter Shikari, Caliban, Every Time I Die, Lordi, Moonspell and many more. In 2012, we wrote and recorded our third album. The result, the band’s most focused and dynamic effort yet, “Are You Kidding Me? No.” led to a worldwide deal with Metal Blade Records.
AR – Destrage’s sound incorporates the elements from the best of Progressive Metal, Thrash Metal and a whole lot of genres mashed in between. How would you truly describe your sound?
DS – We usually describe it by “We do what we want, fuck me, fuck you”
And we mean it.
AR – Given that you have such a vast range of elements borrowed from the farthest corners of everything that falls under Heavy Metal, you all must have a variety of musical influences individually? What were the artists that influenced you right from the beginning and finally came to shape Destrage’s sound?
DS – I think Destrage sound’s is spontaneously various and weird. It’s like we learned how to speak the “metal” language as kids, and then growing up we opened our ears to the world and learned so much more, and the process is still going.
Everything that inspire us, from movies to fine art to haute cousin to love and sex, can be easily translated into hard music as it is our native language.
This said if you take a look to our Spotify profiles you’ll be surprised. Or disgusted ahahah
AR – So “Are You Kidding Me? No” is just on the brink of its release? How are the pre-release preparations shaping up? Any last minute jitters?
DS – Of course it is a lot of work, but all the pieces of communications are ready and set, so we can focus on our release party performance. We will see on saturday the 8th.
We can tell you something fun about this gig to come: we were a little bit concerned about going and playing a long show after months of studio life, so we decided to make a little gig before that, actually it was yesterday night.
Since we didn’t want to spoil the proper release party gig we decided to make it a secret show. So when nobody expected us, we jumped on this venue’s stage under the fake name of “Third Age” (in italian “Terza Età” which means elderly) all dressed up in old dude’s outfit, with facial make up and all. Third Age logo is ugly but tricky: if you rotate “Thirdage” by 360° you get “Destrage”.
Was pretty fun. When people realized what was going on they went crazy.
AR – So give us a detailed background to “Are You Kidding…” Is it a concept album? If so, what is it about and more importantly how did you come up with such an eccentric album title?
DS – We were asked the “Are you kidding me?” question many times, coz many people think our music is bizzarre. We always answered “No.”
Also there is a funny story behind that name: if you watch our album trailer, the one with the old man in panties, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79YjRISikQQ you will find it by clicking on the typography around 43 seconds.
Anyway we thought the title was perfect to describe the album content without being too masturbative.
AR – Something that I have been dying to ask given your sick, memorable tones, what instruments have you used in creating “Are You Kidding..”? Please give us a detailed rundown on your musical gear.
DS – We spent so much time on searching for sounds. The main credit goes to Larsen Premoli, who recorded the material.
In detailed we used electric guitars (Cort, Ibanez, Strato) with DiMarzio pickup and D’Addario strings and those are all recorded via Axe Fx plus analogue PAs, except acoustics (Cort) which are via mic. Wanna mention picks? We use picks hard as fuck :) Dunlop Ultex 2mm. Bass (Music Man History 5 strings, ESP J4, Fender Precision ‘68) is record via SansAmp, Avalon, Mark Bass – Paolo Costa Signature PA.
We also used a steel guitar, a nylon guitar, a few analogue pedals, trumpet, digital orchestra and electronics, EBow, Theremin, big drum set, various percussions, a few noises via iphone and our voice.
There is an extensive documentary coming out soon about the recordings.
AR – This is probably the most inevitable one, given the number of different styles that you incorporate in your music, how does the songwriting process go down for Destrage? Are there a lot of ideas lying around unused after you are done composing a particular track? Given how much you progressively improve with every release, do any of your leftover parts from your older albums ever make it to your albums?
DS – We try to make proper room for the writing process, when we write we try not to do gigs, we don’t do anything else. So at these sessions we bring ideas we collected in the past weeks, and start to organize them. I was impressed by Spike Lee’s way to mess up with the screenplay to create an articulate story, by dividing the bits onto pieces of paper and rearranging the timeline on the wall. We do the same. Post-It. Blue is chorus, orange is verse and so on.
So we build the puzzle and start to mess with it, and as crazy as we like to go, we always want our choices to be justified and we want them to make sense. It’s too easy to make chaos for the fuck of it. The challenge is to create a distinctive order out of chaos.
AR – There have been guest musicians on your previous such as Freak Kitchen’s Matthias IA Eklundh. Should fans be on the lookout for any such surprises this time?
DS – Not a surprise anymore. There is Ron “Thal” Bumblefoot this time.
We have no connection to GnR at all. We are not even huge fans of them.
We are Ron’s fans.
When we finished the track “Are You Kidding Me? No.” We felt something was missing in the end.
In fact, a Bumblefoot solo was missing.
Since we had no connection with him i emailed Mattias “Ia” Eklundh, who played on Jade’s Place and became our friend (WOW) and i asked him for an address, a number, some contact to get to Ron.
Mattias as usual answered very politely, bud didn’t give me what i wanted (he’s a very respectful person), so i was left with no choice other than going on Bumblefoot’s website and write to the general mail address.
And surprize, Ron answered immediatly telling me the song was supergood and he’d do the collaboration.
He told me he was touring with GnR at the moment, so i should wait for a month or so. I though it was his way to refuse.
Instead he really wrote back when the tour was over, asking what we wanted exactly, and we answered “we want you to do whatever you want for 32 bars”.
Few funny private messages followed and we got our perfect solo in 3 days. Smooth.
The song seemed to be made for him, as he also said later in an interview.
So, good experiment, and when we got to meet the guy in person we liked him even more. Ron is rad.
AR – Question for Fredrich: You have played drums on various platforms such as “Skull of Rock” and many more. Have you always had it in mind that you’ll showcase your skillset with a Metal band as well or is it just another part of your CV?
DS – (Fede) Well, actually “Skull Of Rock” in particular was a school I used to teach in Milan, but anyway I’ve really played in many different musical situation: live, studio and television.
To answer your question, I think it’s really difficult to make detailed plans on what your life or career will be, you always have to be ready for anything. I always wanted to rely only on myself, not depending on anyone else (other band members for instance), and now the most important musical situation I have, is my band. So as you see, it’s the opposite of what I’ve been always looking for, but it’s great because this still leaves me the possibility to work on my projects and keep doing it as a professional, as well as it gives me much more exposure. Moreover I feel lucky to share this experience with my band mates, who are really like brothers for me; people who I can really trust to.
AR – Most of your videos such as “Jade’s Place” and “Purania” and on the other hand “My Green Neighbour” have a psychedelic and a comedic tinge to it. Do you focus on such themes consciously? If not what are the themes you aim to portray by your music?
DS – All Destrage videos and communication artifacts are directed by me at The Jack Stupid – Creative Collective. Of course the videos are psychedelic on purpose. It all goes with the music and the lyrics. They couldn’t be elsewere. The band and the collective built their identity together through the years pushing in the same direction like a force.
AR – As I mentioned above Destrage has an artistic (Read: psychedelic) tinge to it. Was the idea behind the album cover for “Are You Kidding..” from the band itself, or was it a collaborative effort with others involved?
DS – The cover is illustrated by the tattoo artist Marco Tafuri at The Jack Stupid collective.
We went for a more free approach this time on visual, by inspiration. The brief was “Marco, listen to the album, read the lyrics and start drawing”. In the end the result is this trippy image that plays with hidden geometry into apparent chaos. The Jack Stupid then took care of layout and typography.
AR – Coming to the Destrage Live Experience, so as to speak, we all know how crazy you guys get in front of the camera and with your music as well; what was the craziest experience you have had live? Any other memorable anecdotes that you would like to share, from your shows outside Italy?
DS – The biggest gig we played was in Italy at Heineken Jammin Festival (the biggest italian summer festival with huge international mainstream bands) as opening act. We’ll never forget that day: while eating, we started to hear from somewhere in the backstage something that sounded like an old 70’s soul funk record, that was just supercool, and we were trying to understand where the speakers actually were and doing Shazam to get the song. But there were no speakers. The thing was Red Hot Chili Peppers in person jamming in their private area for an entire hour before going on stage. Everlong intrumental going nowhere old style funk jam. Yes sir, double backline. One for the show, one for the pre-show wanking. That’s rock n roll. Another awesome experience was our first Japanese tour : Amazing country, amazing people, amazing fans!
Regarding our shows outside Italy our suggestion is to have a look at our Japanese Tour Diary at this link:
AR – Italy is the hotbed for some of the most revered names in Heavy Metal. What is the Italian Heavy Metal scenario like?
DS – The Metal scene here is growing so fast: Tasters, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Upon This Dawning, Ready Set Fall!, Hour Of Penance, Modern Age Slavery, all of them are huge Italian bands signed to great international labels. Now that we have a scene, it would be awesome to see some new Rock and Metal festival on our territory, with huge international bands and Italian band in the same stage. This is definitely my best wish in 2014, but maybe it’s a bit early.
AR – European Heavy Metal has a charm of its own that demands respect from any Metalhead worth his salt. What are the traits that are uniquely Italian Heavy Metal, things that would set the Italian Heavy Metal community apart from the rest of the European Metal scene?
DS – Mmmh I really don’t know. Irony?
AR – We, at The Circle Pit are always on the lookout for new music, are there any new bands on your radar, which you would like to share with us? What Non-Metal/Rock artists would we find on your playlist right now?
DS – On my playlist no artist is playing metal at the moment, sorry :)
Let’s see… By now i’m listening to Lindstorm, Todd Terje, Mina Tindle, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Syd Matters, Timber Timbre, Of Montreal, Acid Pauli, My Bee’s Garden, Krazy Baldhead, Ratatat, The Black Angels, Menomena and Jason Forrest above all.
AR – Would you ever change the style of music you play to conform to any trend (within the realms of Metal of course)?
DS – Our opening song says: “Destroy create transform sublimate, take your risk pack your shit and go, obey emulate conform duplicate, if you’d rather stay and watch”
We will change. We will explore. We will take risks. It will happen for many reasons and none of them is conformity.
AR – Has the everlasting rift between the so-called Old School/ Trve Metalheads and you Modern Metalheads ever bothered you? Given the kind of experimental music you play do you ever worry that you might miss out on a larger audience given your degree of experimentation?
DS – That’s the price we are ready to pay. But we also think sperimentation is broader than niche-oriented genres and if someone dislike us for not being part of one of those niches and follow its rules that simply means two things:
We are not the right band for him.
He’s not the right fan for us.
If you try to drink tomato juice expecting it to be sweet like ananas you will puke. (Already happened to me, and once i overcome the first impact i started loving it)
If you listen to Destrage expecting one breakdown after the other you will hate it.
Probably it’s just better to enjoy things for what they are without expecting a cat to bark like a dog.
AR – Just the other day I came across this amazing band called Deshody, from Italy, but I could not locate much media coverage/exposure on them (live show clips, etc.); is the European Media and audience easy on the fledgling bands, or is it the same back-breaking process for the latter, as it is for every Metal band in other parts of the world?
DS – (Fede)Honestly, I think there are too many different aspects involved into this kind of process, to set a standard, or even a comparison. But one thing is for sure: nowadays there are so many people playing, and so many great bands around, that competition really reached its highest level. If even back in the ‘90s (or whenever earlier) being a good musician was enough, most of the times, to make a living out of it, or even to get signed by a good label, now that aspect isn’t even the most important part. You gotta be a great musician, composer, graphic designer, webmaster, editor, take care of public relations, image of the band, keep your social network updated and always growing….I mean, it’s a full time job, expecially for young bands that can’t afford people doing it for them. So that’s probably why you find bands that do great music but they don’t have that much exposure, as well as bands that have good exposure without making good music.
AR – You have opened shows for the likes of Parkway Drive and Every Time I Die. Which is the one band for whom you all would love to open a show?
DS – The Dillinger Escape Plan
AR – This space is solely for Destrage and what you want to share with your fans all over. You’re up guys!
DS – One wise person told me i should put some sex in everything i do.
We put a lot of it in our music, all we could give at this time is there.
We hope you will have fun listening and dancing to that.
Yes you can dance to 23/16th.
No you can’t have sex with our bass player. He’s rather expensive.